Women’s Health to Wealth (WHW) invited the girls in our 10 Girls’ Clubs to participate in an essay competition celebrating the International Day of the Girl Child. Each girl had the opportunity to write her own story in response to a set of questions. After careful consideration, WHW invited the authors of the best essay from each Club to Kumasi for a finalists’ competition on Wednesday, September 30.
Girls from six of the 10 Clubs competed in the finals, accompanied by their Girls’ Club facilitators. To kick off the competition, WHW Director Abenaa Akuamoa-Boateng spoke briefly about the United Nations and International Day of the Girl Child on October 11. Since 2012, the UN has commemorated this day every year, with celebrations of girls, their potential and their right to health, education and lifelong fulfillment.
After a hearty lunch at WHW’s offices, each girl had 10 minutes to explain to a panel why her story should win. The panel, consisting of the six Girls’ Club facilitators and two WHW officers, used a graded scoring system for the interview.
At the end of the session, Theresah Addai, a 14-year-old seventh-grader at Dumanafo Junior High School, in the Kwabre East district, “came tops.” Theresah was followed by 13-year-old Monica Awaranbila, also in the seventh grade, at Piase Junior High, in the Bosomtwe district.
Both girls received a basket of exercise books, a pencil case filled with a pen and pencils and a personal hygiene set.
WHW Director, Abenaa Akuamoa-Boateng, shared some background about the two prize winners, based on interviews conducted with each girl.
Theresah, her parents’ eighth child, with two brothers and five sisters, is an Akan and a native of Dumanafo, about 45 minutes northeast of Kumasi, where she resides with her mother, a local fetish priestess who never stepped in a classroom and can neither read nor write.
Theresah’s father is an itinerant herbalist who plies his trade in Côte D’Ivoire and visits the family only once a year, at Christmastime. Her mother is the sole breadwinner and usually has very little money to meet the needs of her household, particularly as four of her five daughters still live with her and have kids of their own. Theresah speaks of deprivation and frequent hunger; yet she speaks with boldness, and clear determination to make something better out of her life.
Monica belongs to the Dagbon tribe and hails from Walewale, in Ghana’s impoverished Northern region. The fourth of six children, Monica has just one sister, who is already a child bride and the mother of two. Monica’s uncle, who works as a security guard in the local senior high school, brought her to Piase two years ago, where he “gave her out” to a local food vendor as household help, in exchange for the vendor’s providing Monica with a place to sleep and two meals a day.
Determined as she is to make a life for herself, each weekend Monica heads out alone into the bush to collect firewood, which she sells to cover the costs of her schoolbooks, school materials and her other needs, as neither her uncle or her supposed guardian does so.
On this International Day of the Girl Child, WomenStrong International celebrates the remarkable resilience and determination of girls worldwide. Follow the “Latest Stories” at womenstrong.org , for more Day of the Girl coverage.